In an age when most women were not expected to think
about issues of the day, Lucretia Mott not only
contemplated them, but also spoke out on them. By
the early 1830s, having distinguished herself as
a Quaker minister, she was founding Philadelphias
Female Anti-Slavery Society, and her regally erect
figure was becoming a familiar sight on the abolitionist
Motts commitment to freeing blacks deepened her awareness
of the constraints society placed on her own sex.
In 1848, though still devoted to the abolitionist
cause, she was in Seneca Falls, New York, helping
to organize the first American gathering called
in the name of female equality.
A letter of 1841 suggests that this portrait of Mott
was begun in the spring of that year. It had been
commissioned by a New York publisher, who intended
to make prints from it. But apparently that never
happened, and the likeness remained in the subjects
family until it came to the National Portrait
Gallery in 1974.